Day 14: Trouble Saying NO? Do This To Find Your Voice!

You know the feeling all too well…

That sinking sinking sensation that starts to swallow you whole, the second after you’ve agreed to do something you really didn’t want to do.

You know you need to leave the yes-habit behind forever, but do you have the confidence to say NO?

The first thing to remember is to never beat yourself up. You are not spineless, a pushover or insecure, you’re a human being. For hundreds of thousands of years, humans have relied on cooperation and trading favors to keep themselves sheltered and fed. Our ancestors saw that those who weren’t willing to lend a hand found themselves without friends to help them out, sometimes to the detriment of their survival.

These days our friendships, family, workplaces and communities are also dependent on people helping one another to function and thrive. Yet the demands on our time have multiplied and it’s no longer possible for any of us to be entirely at the disposal of others.

When helping others means you no longer have time to meet your own needs, you must take steps to make sure balance is restored.

Say NO Without The Guilt!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay to be wishy washy or vague when saying no, hoping the other party gets the hint. It’s much better for all involved if you can say no without ambiguity.

Keep these pointers in mind the next time you’re saying NO:

1.            Provide a Reason: Offering a reason why you’re saying no will soften the blow and reassure the other party that it’s not personal. You don’t need to go into elaborate detail, a simple “I have other plans for that day” or “I’m already fully booked” offered with confidence, will work.

2.            Sometimes people will try to wear you down or anticipate all your objections so they can counter each one. Don’t waste time being angry or offended. Know you don’t have to keep explaining yourself and have every right to continue saying no.

3.            Don’t allow yourself to get trapped! Beware of the person who approaches you asking what you are doing on Saturday, particularly if you own a truck. You can be vague if you don’t want to lie but don’t leave yourself open to them giving you something to do!

4.            Related to number 3, plans to relax and unwind are a commitment to yourself. Be thoughtful about what circumstances warrant breaking commitments to your own self care. Watching a friend’s kids so she can take her baby to the emergency room for seizures – worth it. Watching a friend’s kids so she can go to the movies even though this is your only free weekend of the season – not so much. Put yourself first so you can be there for her at a later date.

5.            If you do want to help, suggest compromises. Set firm boundaries and stick to them. Sadly, some people will continually try pushing those boundaries. Keep a note for next time. They might mean well and still be good friends, but keep in mind you’ll get more than you bargained for when you try and help them out.

6.            The more times you say no and nobody dies and the sky doesn’t fall, the more comfortable you’ll feel with it in the future. So keep up the good work!

Remember, the reason you have trouble saying no is because you have a genuinely helpful heart and empathy for others. These are gifts you can channel into many positive things IF you make sure you are giving yourself the self care, rest and relaxation you need to be the best person you can be.


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Sean Platt is an author and professional ghostwriter, and part of the crew at the lifestyle design site, Your Life’s Blueprint. Life’s better when you follow him on Twitter.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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